Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Is There Such A Thing As Social Progress?

The concept of progress has been applied to a number of issues. One is scientific and technological progress. The other is the social progress.

I take no issue with the concept of scientific and technological progress. Clearly that is a real thing, and it has done a lot to improve the lives of all sorts of people. My concern is with the concept of social progress. Frankly, I do not believe that such a thing exists. And I make this finding based on the study of world history.

Societies change all the time in all sorts of directions and for all sorts of reasons. Under the Tang Dynasty in 9th century AD, the social climate was very relaxed. The empires after that changed all that; and for a long time China has been a very authoritarian country.

In the Western civilization, the situation has varied greatly. The “decadence” of Rome was followed by the medieval era that was very repressive. The Middle Ages were followed by the Renaissance which was quite relaxed. That, in turn, was followed by the Reformation; which was followed by rationalism; which was followed by Romanticism; which was followed by the Victorian Era; which was followed by the bohemian period. Some of these had relaxed social values and some did not. At no point is there a linear trend toward one or the other outcome.

In 1960s and 1970s many people thought that liberalization of social attitudes was progress. In 1980s and 1990s people stopped believing in such things. Many people want to portray what happened in 1960s and 1970s as an aberration; a result of a bad crop. The life-affirming feminism of 1960s and 1970s was replaced by a vicious feminism that wanted to exterminate a whole section of the population – the people they saw as “sociopaths” and “perverts.” Certainly some of them thought that what they were doing the right thing. Many of them thought that they were affectuating social progress. They were not.

Once again, is there such a thing as social progress? I do not believe that there is. Social values change all the time in all sorts of directions and for different reasons. That something is consistent with Marxism does not make it progress. There are plenty of intelligent women who prefer the “traditional” role; and that does not make them reactionaries.

Just about everyone wants scientific and technological progress in the world. But on social issues people will disagree. Some will look to the Bible and the Quran and others will look toward feminism. Right now, I do not know which one is better than the other. People have lived well in both, and others suffered under both.


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